Liverpool defender Andy Robertson insists his side’s focus is not on Manchester City but accepts they have to keep pushing their rivals in the hope of reigniting the Premier League title race.
The defending champions have an 11-point lead at the top, having played one match more, and with April’s meeting at the Etihad Stadium still some way off, Jurgen Klopp’s side have to find the consistency of victories which produced the epic late-season battle in the 2018-19 campaign.
On that occasion City, who had begun the year seven points behind, won their last 14 matches (Liverpool won 10 of the last 11), to pip their rivals by a point.
This time around the difference between the two is wider but after beating Brentford 3-0, their first league win since mid-December, Robertson believes Liverpool have to put themselves in a position where they can take advantage should City falter.
“We can’t focus on Man City. Man City are one of the best teams in Premier League history and they’ve shown that especially over the last six or seven weeks, they’ve just been winning 1-0s, 2-1s and just been doing enough to win games. That’s what wins you championships,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“Maybe we’ve struggled a little bit at that recently, giving away leads and things like that, but all we can do is focus on ourselves, focus on each game we play and try to, if they do slip up, be ready to close the gap.
“The gap is a big one. We would rather have points on the board so hopefully if we win that game in hand we can be eight points (behind). Let’s see.
“They’re a fantastic team, they can win every game, we know that. The two seasons we competed really tightly with them, it was just win-win, both teams.
We can’t focus on Man City. All we can do is focus on ourselves. If they do slip up, we have to be ready to close the gap
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson
“We need to do that. We’ve got to hope they slip up and rely on others, of course we do. We have been in a bit of a sticky patch where we have drawn too many games and obviously lost to Leicester.
“It was important we just got back to winning ways and now we really need to try to kick on and just keep on picking up three points.”
On December 16 Liverpool trailed City by just a point after both had played 17 matches.
Since then Klopp’s side have taken five points from a possible 12, while City have been relentless, accruing a maximum 15.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they do not listen to criticism of recent performances (Peter Byrne/PA)
Conceding a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Chelsea and last week’s goalless Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg draw at home to 10-man Arsenal were confidence blows but Klopp thinks they banished any worries against Brentford.
“Winning is good for confidence, definitely. I don’t think we struggled confidence-wise,” said the Reds boss, who has tried to play down the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane who are still at the African Nations Cup.
“We can pretty much cut off the public noise, so what’s happening around. We knew against Arsenal what was not right but the world out there (put) the finger on the obvious thing that a couple of players are not here – world-class players, by the way.
“We knew that so we didn’t have to read it and we could do our own thing and that’s what we did.”